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Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature

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York University offers formal accreditation in comparative literature at the graduate level through the Graduate Diploma in Comparative Literature. Comparative literature has a strong tradition in Canada, which resulted in the founding of the Canadian Comparative Literature Association in 1969 and its journal, the Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue canadienne de littérature comparée in 1974. 

This challenging graduate diploma highlights the comparative, multilingual, cross-cultural nature of a student’s graduate training. In the case of MA students, it provides promising opportunities for further study in related disciplines; in the case of PhD students, it can lead to prospective careers in a range of areas requiring a high level of cross-cultural competency and literacy from government to the global creative industries. 

Students who complete the Graduate Diploma in Comparative Literature know how to: 

  • identify, define, and historically situate key concepts, terms, methodologies, theoretical approaches, and critical assumptions as they have been developed in the discipline of comparative literature; 
  • explain and critique western and non-western literary, cultural and artistic traditions in contexts that are both historical and contemporary;  
  • describe fundamental debates in the discipline, as well as new concerns and developments, and situate them vis-à-vis other disciplines;  
  • explain advantages and disadvantages of comparative methods for the creation of knowledge; 
  • develop unique research topics that fit into an interdisciplinary comparative humanities framework and lead to new knowledge;  
  • recognize research questions that are not suitable for comparative approaches;  
  • work with academic material in at least two languages other than English;  
  • connect with scholars in cognate areas at both the national and the international levels; and, 
  • communicate their unique contribution to comparative literature. 

Admission Requirements

To register for the graduate diploma, a student must first be admitted to a graduate degree program (MA or PhD) at York University. Application to enter the Graduate Diploma in Comparative Literature is made to the Director of the Graduate Program in Humanities.

Diploma Requirements

Students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Comparative Literature must successfully complete the following requirements:

  1. A mandatory three-credit course on the history of comparative and world literature : Humanities 6157 3.0: Comparative and World Literature Seminar: History and Practice/Same as English 6157 3.0 and Translation 6157 3.0. This course is in addition to the requirements of the student’s MA or PhD degree.
  2. A capstone graduate diploma research paper, elaborated under the supervision of a professor with specialization in the topic to be explored, and submitted to a second reader. This paper further develops expertise in comparative literature and requires that students demonstrate the interdisciplinary research and critical skills acquired throughout their Graduate Diploma in Comparative Literature studies. This is also an additional requirement.
  3. One course in cultural theory (three or six credits), to be chosen among the offerings of the graduate programs at York University and approved by the student’s supervisor and the Humanities Graduate Program Director. This course can count as one of the student’s degree requirements.
  4. Three research papers completed in conjunction with the coursework required by their programs that have clearly comparative cultural content; or a major research paper, thesis, or dissertation with an approach relevant to comparative literature, to be approved by the student’s supervisor.
  5. It is highly recommended but not required that students complete a study period, research stay or an internship of at least one semester in a country where English is not the main language of communication. York International has a large number of exchange agreements, summer programs and internships that are available to graduate students:
  6. Demonstrated academic competence in two languages other than English. Language competence is the responsibility of the supervisor and must be carried out according to methods appropriate to both the language and the subject matter in question. Students’ language competence is assessed in one of the following ways, as agreed with their supervisor:
    • satisfactory completion of an intermediate level graduate language course;
    • completion of a university level language course at the second year or above with a ‘B’ grade;
    • satisfactory completion of a translation examination, involving the translation of a substantive excerpt from a text relevant to the student’s program of study in a two hour period with the aid of a dictionary, and evaluated by two faculty members with competence in the language;
    • satisfactory completion of at least one year of full-time study in a language other than English at an accredited university;
    • or, for students from non-English speaking backgrounds, a certificate of completion for high school, or the equivalent, for which the official language of instruction was other than English;
    • students who require oral competence in a language for their research can instead meet their language requirement through an oral examination. They must demonstrate competence in a language through a one-hour oral examination with a fluent speaker.

Upon satisfactory completion of both the diploma and degree requirements, the diploma is normally awarded concurrently with the MA or PhD.

For more information, contact the Graduate Program in Humanities, York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario, M3J 1P3;